On December 10, 2018, Plano City Council voted to approve the appointments of two lawyers to be ethics investigators, even though one has serious conflicts of interest issues.
Glenn B. Callison and Kimberly S. Moore were picked by the City Attorney, Paige Mims,to replace two ethics investigators who have stepped down. There is a total of four Ethics Investigators contracted with the city. They are only paid if a case arises, and charge by the hour.
The city council was only made aware of Ms. Mims picks the Thursday before the meeting. That is not a lot of time to look into the candidates. Plus, the city council has until January 14, 2019 to replace the out going investigators. To top it all off, the appointments were placed on the consent agenda. So, to have more time to look at the candidates, Councilman Tom Harrison pulled it from the consent agenda to table it for another day. He would also like more candidates to choose from. Right now the council only gets to vote up or down on one person to fill an open spot.
Ms. Mims seemed annoyed that the items were pulled from the consent agenda, and at the fact that some council members wanted more time to vet the candidates. She repeatedly asked the council to, "Respect my professional opinion and appoint these people." Ms. Mims also told the council, "If you have recommendations I would be happy to consider them, but it has to be people I can trust to represent my office…" She also said, “I have already asked these people to serve, [and] I don’t want to go back and tell [them] we are not going to use you. I am asking that you… appoint these people this year, and if we want to change [the process] next year and you want to give me names, I’ll be happy to do that.”
Now wait just a darn minute! Ms. Mims has clearly forgotten her place. First of all, Ms. Mims works for the city and under the council. The city council does not work for her. She also wasn’t elected by the citizens, so she needs to drop the, “we” from her statement. If the city council wants to change the process, that is only up to them.
Secondly, the Ethic Investigators do not work for the City Attorney: they work for the city. They need to be independent, because they may have to investigate the city attorney, or one of the staff members in her department. Instead of saying she “would be happy to consider lawyers the council recommends,” she should be saying, she would be happy to vet them.
Third, how dare she say, “I don’t want to go back and tell these people we are not going to use them.” She makes it sound like she told these people they had the job before the council voted on them. Just because she is sitting on the dais, does not mean she has the same power as the city council. If she wants a vote, she needs to be elected by the voters.
As for the process, Councilman Ricciardelli would like to see a more open application process. That way whoever wants the job can apply for it. He also wants candidates who have a significant focus on ethics in their practice. Another thing he suggested was for the council to pick people who do not live in Plano to avoid the appearance of favoritism, corruption, and conflicts of interests.
As for the candidates, Kimberly S. Moore is the more qualified of the two. This is because she does employment law. However, she was the chair of the Plano Chamber of Commerce, and Leadership Plano Board Member.
Glenn Callison has conflicts of interest issues and is not an ethics or municipal attorney. He is a commercial lawyer. He and his law firm have clients that have done, and are, doing business with the city. His wife is a former council member, and he has also been involved in politics. He personally knows most of the council members and lives close to Ms. Mims. It makes me wonder if he was picked just because Ms. Mims and some council members know Mr. Callison personally? He has also donated and voted for the Mayor and others council members. However, he did not support Anthony Ricciardelli’s campaign even though Glenn Callison says he is a Republican and Councilman Ricciardelli, a Republican, ran against a Democrat Precinct Chair in a run off. He also did not support Rick Smith’s election. Since the Ethics Investigator has a say on whether or not a council members have violated the law, Mr. Callison would have to recuse himself from those cases. His law firm also should not represent clients that do business with the city while he is an investigator.
Three residents spoke out against Glenn Callison’s appointment. All sighting his conflict of interest issues.
Of course the Mayor had to put his two cents in on the issue of the appointments saying, “The city attorney gets to choose who she believes is in the best interest of representing [her] office.”He went on to say, “I don’t want choices, I want the city attorney to give me who she thinks is the best person because if she gives me three choices next year for a spot, I am not sure that I’m qualified to say who is that better person.” The Mayor closed his remarks by telling the council to, “Stay in our lane. We tend to get into the business of the city manager and the city attorney.”
First of all, Mr. Mayor, the city attorney doesn’t get to pick, or get a vote; she gets to recommend. You vote yes or no. If city attorneys knew what was best, city councils wouldn't have to vote. Now Mayor, if you think you are not smart enough to pick an attorney, you can abstain from the vote. Just because you don’t think you are qualified to pick an ethics lawyer does not mean the others on the council are not qualified. Councilman Riccadelli is a lawyer, so he is more then qualified to choose one.
Second, everything that goes on in this city is in the councils “lane”, because at the end of the day the buck stops with the city council. The voters didn't elect the city council to just be a rubber stamp for whatever the city staff wants.They didn't make you Mayor to be a yes man. You and the council are the ones who are accountable to the voters. The council members are the gatekeepers. They are supposed to make sure the people’s money is spent wisely, things are running smoothly, and done correctly. They put you there to sometimes say no to city staff and bureaucrats.They elected the council to oversee the running of the city. If the city council members don’t want to do that, Plano might as well get rid of council and just have the city manager be the dictator of Plano.
In the end, the council approved both candidates. Council members Tom Harrison and Rick Smith were the only no votes.
This is Plano’s Political Pit Bull Signing Off.